Friday, June 15, 2018

June 17, 2018 The Mustard Seed

The Eleventh Sunday in Ordinary Time  - Year B

Reading I:  Ezekiel 17:22-24
Psalm:  92  

Reading II:  2 Cor. 5:6-10

Gospel:  Mark 4:26-34

The Lord often would refer to aspects of nature in his teaching and preaching. Yes, 
Mother Nature, created by God, provides us with lessons every day if we take the time to reflect. Before we had the Bible, people had some understanding of the Creator from their experiences in their earthly home. God chose to reveal more about Himself when He sent His Son to help us to understand our God on an even deeper level.

The parable of the mustard seed can remind us that if we nurture the gift of faith we received from the Lord, great things can happen. The mustard seed is very small, but it can grow into a large tree and attract the birds of the air to nestle in its branches.

When cared for, a tree can provide beauty, stability, shade, comfort, and
sometimes fruit for us. I have been struck by the beauty of the trees as they blossom in the springtime. Because of the large amounts of rain and good soil here in Pennsylvania, many trees grow to be magnificent and tall. 
However, if there is not enough water and nutrients available for the trees, they can die, be dwarfed, or bear no fruit.

Just so, our faith and relationship with the Lord must be nourished in order to grow. How does that happen? Just as human relationships are unique according to the personalities of the individuals, so we relate to the Lord in unique ways. While we share some experiences such as the Mass, the Sacraments, devotions like the rosary and novenas, we also have other ways of nurturing our relationships.

According to our personalities, we may grow in many different ways and through varied experiences. It may be reflecting on nature, listening to spiritual talks, reading the Bible, reading spiritual books, belonging to a Bible study or Faith-sharing group, meditation, contemplation, sacred music, sacred poetry, sacred art, spiritual direction, adoration of the Blessed Sacrament, visiting the Lord in church or chapel, making a prayer corner in own home, making retreats, accepting trials, or extending ourselves to carrying on the mission of Jesus.

The following is a quotation from St. Teresa of Avila:
Christ Has No Body

Christ has no body but yours,
        No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
      Yours are the eyes with which He looks
Compassion on this world.
Yours are the feet with which He walks to do good,
  Yours are the hands with which He blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
 Yours are the eyes, you are His body.
Christ has no body now but yours.
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which He looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.

How important our relationships must be for the Lord to provide so many
wonderful, varied opportunities to deepen our love and devotion to Him!!!       

 Reflection Question:  Ask the Lord how He would like you to nurture your relationship with Him.


Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
La semilla de mostaza

El Señor a menudo se referirá a aspectos de la naturaleza en su enseñanza y predicación. Sí, la Madre Naturaleza, creada por Dios, nos proporciona lecciones todos los días si nos tomamos el tiempo para reflexionar. Antes de que tuviéramos la Biblia, las personas tenían cierta comprensión del Creador a partir de sus experiencias en su hogar terrenal. Dios eligió revelar más acerca de sí mismo cuando envió a su Hijo para ayudarnos a comprender a nuestro Dios en un nivel aún más profundo.
La parábola de la semilla de mostaza puede recordarnos que si alimentamos el don de la fe que recibimos del Señor, pueden suceder cosas grandiosas. La semilla de mostaza es muy pequeña, pero puede convertirse en un árbol grande y atraer a las aves del aire para que se acurruquen en sus ramas.

Cuando se lo cuida, un árbol puede brindar belleza, estabilidad, sombra, comodidad y, a veces, fruta para nosotros. Me ha impresionado la belleza de los árboles cuando florecen en primavera. Debido a la gran cantidad de lluvia y buen suelo aquí en Pensilvania, muchos árboles son magníficos y altos. Sin embargo, si no hay suficiente agua y nutrientes disponibles para los árboles, pueden morir, empequeñecerse o no dar fruto.
Solo así, nuestra fe y nuestra relación con el Señor deben nutrirse para crecer. ¿Cómo sucede eso? Así como las relaciones humanas son únicas según las personalidades de los individuos, así nos relacionamos con el Señor de maneras únicas. Mientras compartimos algunas experiencias como la Misa, los sacramentos, devociones como el rosario y las novenas, también tenemos otras formas de nutrir nuestras relaciones.

De acuerdo con nuestras personalidades, podemos crecer de diferentes maneras y a través de experiencias variadas. Puede ser reflexionar sobre la naturaleza, escuchar charlas espirituales, leer la Biblia, leer libros espirituales, pertenecer a un estudio bíblico o grupo de fe compartida, meditación, contemplación, música sacra, poesía sagrada, arte sacro, dirección espiritual, adoración del Santísimo Sacramento, visitando al Señor en la iglesia o capillahaciendo un rincón de oración en su propio hogar, haciendo retiros, aceptando pruebas, o extendiéndonos para llevar a cabo la misión de Jesús.

La siguiente es una cita de Santa Teresa de Ávila:

Cristo no tiene cuerpo

Cristo no tiene otro cuerpo que el tuyo,
Sin manos, sin pies en la tierra, excepto los tuyos,
Los tuyos son los ojos con los que se ve Compasión en este mundo.
Tuyos son los pies con los que camina para hacer el bien, Las suyas son las manos con las que bendice a todo el mundo.
Las suyas son las manos, los suyos son los pies, Los tuyos son los ojos, tú eres su cuerpo. Cristo no tiene otro cuerpo que el tuyo.
Sin manos, sin pies en la tierra, excepto los tuyos, Los tuyos son los ojos con los que se ve compasión en este mundo.
Cristo no tiene cuerpo ahora en la tierra, sino el tuyo.

Cuán importantes deben ser nuestras relaciones para que el Señor
provea tantas oportunidades maravillosas y variadas para
profundizar nuestro amor y devoción a Él !!!

 Pregunta de reflexión:   ¿Cómo puedo tener la fuerza para decir "Sí" al Señor en circunstancias difíciles?


A friend of mine who lives in France recently sent me seeds to grow French beans. I planted them last week, rather late season, and I check them each morning looking for signs of growth. I marvel at the miracle of it all – small seed, moist soil, sunshine, germination and finally sprouts shoot up through the dirt. Seeds contain everything a plant needs to start a new life. Spiritual facilitator, Cynthia Bourgeault, writes, “If this seed does fall into the ground, it enters a sacred transformative process…a sprout is the actualization of the possibility latent in the seed – and a whole new field of possibility.”
So what is so significant about the mustard seed? Well, the Israelites were expecting a Messiah who would return the reign of Israel back to the “good old days” of King David. They were expecting a great kingdom, represented by the mighty cedar tree of Lebanon. However, Jesus taught that the Kingdom of God is much more representative of a mustard seed; a tiny seed that will become a great shelter for the birds of the air. “Not by power but by faith,” as Guerric De Bona, OSB writes, does God’s kingdom flourish. He continues, “Not by strength of what we do, but through the grace given to believe,” do we prosper. DeBona paraphrases St. Paul’s quote, “we walk by faith not by sight,” with “we walk by faith not by might.”
I grew up worshipping in churches that were filled to capacity on Sundays. In Philadelphia “Parish Pride” was part of many conversations. We would always ask someone “what parish are you from?” The worship community took pride in financing the church, Catholic schools, Seminary, Rome – you name it, we supported it. We Catholics liked having our forests of mighty cedars. Father DeBona continues his article with the reminder that the days of “relying on the institutions for the substantial, visible manifestation of the Kingdom of God” was not sustainable. Our parish churches and schools are closing, the number of men entering Seminary has significantly decreased. We are realizing today that “it is faith in the risen Lord that enables us to see the Kingdom before us.”
Jesus tells us that if we have faith the size of a mustard seed we can move a mountain. If that is all the faith we need to manifest the Kingdom of God, then it must not be about size; it is about focus. Our faith must be in Jesus. We need to change from being a fan to a committed follower of Christ. PW Emerson writes, “The analogy of the mustard seed is appropriate because on a mustard seed plant, the root grows three times faster than the stalk. Our faith must be rooted in God for it to be any good!” Pastor Rick Warren offers a clever equation: “Little faith + Big God = Huge results!
The Spring Season is a wonderful time to tend to the soil of our heart and soul. I find myself asking what seeds do I need to plant to achieve the transformation I’d like to experience? What possibilities are sprouting up before me that I may be failing to recognize because I am too busy to notice? What is God seeding in me to call forth my latent potential to cultivate new life in His Kingdom?
I’m hoping my beans will grow in spite of their late planting. Fortunately, there are no seasonal concerns when nurturing seeds of faith. We can start right where we are and the Lord will be delighted that we are choosing to cultivate our faith garden. By watering our mustard seed faith with prayer and fertilizing it with spiritual practices, we will develop sturdy roots that will strengthen our relationship with God and influence our response to the needs of our broken world. Perhaps this is how our personal “sacred transformative process” unfolds.
“We do not have to do this to make God love us. That is already taken care of. We do it to love God back and to love what God loves and how God loves!” (Richard Rohr)
Let’s sow seeds of blessings this week, Pat C., ASBS
Sr. Therese M. Warner
Parables are fascinating and deeply penetrating messages from Jesus, aren't they? Your reflections about the mustard seed, etc., are very appropriate, Sister. Also, the quotation from St. Teresa of Avila is certainly inspiring. Thank you.

The following excerpts are from a homily by
Rev. Fr. Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S. Sp.

"On this eleventh Sunday of Ordinary Time, we are reminded that the Church of Christ is like a tree planted in the world. From the smallest of seeds it becomes the noblest of trees and a physical evidence of God's kingdom which fills the earth. We are therefore encouraged to seek this kingdom with faith."

"This is the kingdom where God wishes us to be. The visible sign of this kingdom is the Church to which all people come to seek refuge."
"In the Gospel, Christ uses parables to describe and invite us to the kingdom of God. The kingdom He invites us to is a simple and peaceful one which grows gradually and steadily. It is open to all who seek it with a sincere heart. God owns, controls and sustains everything within it. The focus of this parable is not on the work of the farmer who planted the seeds, but on the work of the seed which obtains its growth from a mysterious source and grows so slowly that one can hardly notice it. In this kingdom, God is present and doing his thing in a manner that we can hardly explain. The only thing we need to do is simply to sow a seed of faith in Christ Jesus, and God himself will be in charge of the rest.“

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